Where a flying Soul-O-Sista (or Mister) should go when they want a holiday that involves a lot of shopping?
Well that can depend on what you’re in the market to buy. Cars, electronics, clothes, home wares. Different countries offer different products and different shopping experiences all together.
Now, for me, I have no idea on the luxury car market, nor do I have much knowledge on electronics. Therefore, this blog post is going to be based around where in the world to shop for clothes, accessories and home wares.
Everyone loves a bargain. Even the richest wealthiest of us on this planet can’t resist when there is a huge 50% off sticker.
If shopping for fakes is what you are after, then Thailand and China are you best places to go. All over Thailand you will find surf branded board shorts and T-Shirts, up-market bags and wallets and expensive watches. Although these might not be the real deal-they certainly look good. Be careful as they don’t always fit as well as the real brands and there is a good chance they will fall apart fairly quickly. But a pair of board shorts in Thailand can go for $10. A surf hat for $3 and a t-shirt for $5. Pack an empty suitcase and stock up.
China (including Hong Kong) has a big market of fake hand bags, wallets, purses, watches and luxury branded polo shirts. All for a decent price.
Something to remember when you are in the market to buy fakes is that there are different levels of fake products. Let’s use watches as the example. A Level 1 fake watch will be light (like it is made of tin), it will spell that brand of the watch wrong (think Prado, Guccie or Ralex), and it will look like it’s a breath away from falling off your wrist. These watches also don’t look like the watches you see in the ‘real’ store window. These fakes will go for about $2-10.
A Level 2 fake will be branded correctly and use better materials to make the watch. But they still won’t have the same look as what you see in the shop. A Level 2 watch will cost you $10-20.
A Level 3 fake is a pretty good quality fake. It uses good materials so is a little heavier on your wrist. It will look like that watch you’ve be seeing in the shop window, everything is branded correctly. They price from about $15-30.
Finally, a Level 4 fake is top notch quality. Could be the real deal just fallen off the back of a truck, kind of quality. A direct replica of your most favourite expensive watch brand (maybe without the diamonds). These generally sell for $30-$80. Although that sounds like a lot of money for a fake, let’s look at it this way….the watch you want is $3700! This is $80.
These levels of fake-ness goes for all products including hand bags/purses/wallets, expensive branded clothes. Level 1 fake brand name handbags will be faux leather and stitching that is coming undone. The Level 4 fake will be real leather and look identical to the real thing.
Now, if buying fake goods is out of your scope and you wouldn’t be caught dead with a Ralex watch or even the Level 4 fake, then the best place in the world to shop is USA.
When USA department stores have a sale, THEY REALLY HAVE A SALE!!!!!
It makes me so happy to see a sale rack that has a big sign that says “take a further 50% off the sale price” I have been in stores where $500 dresses were 50% off, 50% off and then “today only” take a further 50% off….$65! BOOM!
What is also awesome about shopping in the USA is the Outlets. They are everywhere, and they have amazing deals on last season stock that they can’t get rid of. And big brand names have stores in outlets. The Nike’s, Ralph Lauren’s, Tommy Hilfiger’s and the Guess’s are all regulars at American Outlet stores. I once got 3 pairs of Kenneth Cole Leather shoes for $50! Still wearing them today…you just can’t beat quality and timeless style.
But where I go my craziest, shopping in USA is the off price retailer stores of TJ Maxx, Marshalls and the Ross Store. An off price retail store is a departments store that sells REAL designer clothes for a fraction of the price that the own stores sell themselves…..even at the outlets. How do they do it?? Well when your favourite brand can’t sell their excess stock, they send it to the outlet. And when the outlet store can’t sell it, it goes to TJ Maxx, Marshalls and the Ross Store. And these stores sell everything from clothes, sunglasses, fragrances, jewellery, work out gear, sheets, pillows, suitcases, handbags…need I go on.
Whenever I take a trip to USA, I will visit one of these stores within the first 24hrs of touch down. I lived on/off in USA for 10yrs and in that time, never brought a piece of clothing in Australia. Even when the Australia dollar is weak (it was $0.50 when I first went to USA as an adult), they still have great prices.
The best purchases I made were:
-Michael Kors and Oscar De La Renta sunglasses for $10
– True Religion Jeans for $80
– Tommy Hilfiger handbag for $15
– Ceramic hair strightener $20
– Quicksilver hoodie $15
– Ralph Lauren sheets (1000 thread count) $30
If you are looking for more up markets brands, then one of the greatest stores in the World is Century 21 in New York City. Here you are looking at Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, and Chanel. I use to buy my dad Yves Saint Laurent ties for work for $10!!! YEP!!! He thinks I’m being a super generous daughter and I’m saving my pennies so I can go buy the Diesel Jeans I just saw. Did you know that for some high end items, it is CHEAPER for you to pay for a plane ticket, accommodation and food to USA, and then go ahead and buy your high end item while there, than it is just buying the item here in Australia.
Yep, America is where it is at when it comes to brand name shopping. But what if you are looking for something of exceptional quality, unique style and that no one else in Australia has…..well that’s when you head to Italy (all over), Paris or Barcelona. The prices here are not cheap. But the quality is exceptional. Paris is a given. If you are ok to by-pass the big named department stores then head to the Latin Quarter (across the bridge from Notre Dame). Here you will find a number of boutique designer stalls with beautiful clothes that you’ll be guaranteed never to see someone else wearing in Australia. And the prices here are not terrible. I got a dress for €80 and I love it. I also found some awesome markets in Barcelona where I brought my most favourite skirt of all time at €40. I was poor and broke at the time, and really could not afford to pay €40 and still eat….but I now have no regrets. I brought that skirt 9yrs ago and am still wearing it today (without looking like I have on an outdated skirt). In Florence, Italy I made an expensive but much needed purchase of a tailored leather jacket. Convinced by my father who still had his leather jacket from Florence brought 35yrs prior. Yes it is undeniable that these 3 European cities sell clothes of timeless quality. Even if it does come with a price tag.
Before leaving Australia with the thought of shopping up big time, please also consider the baggage allowances to the country of destination. A return ticket to anywhere in Europe only comes with a 20kg baggage limit. Hardly enough space to go wild. While a trip to USA allows for 2x bags of 23kg!!! 2x32kg if you are flying business! Yes you read that right. Don’t you just love America and there excessive nature. It certainly works if you are after a big shopping trip. And the best part of that is, if you don’t want to take 2 bags with you, you can always buy a super cheap Samsonite Suitcase at the outlet store and fill it up before returning home.
Happy Shopping People!
This blog post is a part of a series called “Where a flying Soul-o-Sista (or Mister) should go when……..” Other posts in this series can be found below
Still to come…
4. Where a flying Soul-O-Sista (or Mister) should go when…..They want to find Happiness
5. Where a flying Soul-O-Sista (or Mister) should go when…..They want a Working Holiday
6. Where a flying Soul-O-Sista (or Mister) should go when…..They want to Give Back
7. Where a flying Soul-O-Sista (or Mister) should go when…..They have never traveled before
8. Where a flying Soul-O-Sista (or Mister) should go when…..They want Extreme Adventure